six cool things on a monday (including giveaway winner!)


1. JULIE PAPRIKA is here! If, like me, you’re a fan of award-winning painter and children’s book illustrator Julie Paschkis, the good news is that now some of her work is available for purchase online as archival prints. I just ordered “Eat Pie,” which I’ve loved for several years because, well, PIE! 🙂 I love the shop name too (“Julie Paprika: Art Adds Spice to Life”). See more here. (Julie will be stopping by soon to talk about her new book, P. Zonka Lays An Egg, which is gorgeous!)

“Baskets Full”

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2. New book alert! Jeannine Atkins’s adult novel, Little Woman in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott (She Writes Press, 2015) is now available for pre-order!

May Alcott spends her days sewing blue shirts for Union soldiers, but she dreams of painting a masterpiece—which many say is impossible for a woman—and of finding love, too. When she reads her sister’s wildly popular novel, Little Women, she is stung by Louisa’s portrayal of her as “Amy,” the youngest of four sisters who trades her desire to succeed as an artist for the joys of hearth and home. Determined to prove her talent, May makes plans to move far from Massachusetts and make a life for herself with room for both watercolors and a wedding dress. Can she succeed? And if she does, what price will she have to pay? Based on May Alcott’s letters and diaries, as well as memoirs written by her neighbors, Little Woman in Blue puts May at the center of the story she might have told about sisterhood and rivalry in an extraordinary family.

As a big fan of the Alcotts and Jeannine’s books (especially Borrowed Names), I simply can. not. wait. to read this one. It comes out in September 2015, and till then, I’ll be drinking many cups of anticipation tea, daydreaming about Concord. Click here to read Jeannine’s post about the book (isn’t that a stunning cover?), and here to pre-order!

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3. New bears in the house! We now have three additions to our growing Paddington family! A 6″ Paddington “Little Bitty” magically appeared in the Alphabet Soup kitchen one morning, and I won a giveaway for an 8″ Movie Paddington from Movie Mom’s blog.


Biggest surprise was a knock knock knock at the front door, where I discovered this charming 20″ Rugby Paddington, made by Gabrielle Designs in England back in 1985. He was a tad tired after his long journey from California via Denver, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but quickly revived with marmalade toast and tea. He still won’t tell me what’s in his duffel bag.

And speaking of Paddington, he made this list of the All-Time 100 Greatest ToysHe’s included in the 70’s decade with the nerf ball, Rubik’s Cube, and Magna Doodle. It was fun looking through the entire list to see which toys I had or longed for (Chatty Cathy, Barbie’s Dream House, Easy-Bake Oven). As an adult, I acquired Teddy Ruxpin and a Care Bear, and have very fond memories of hula hoops, Play-Doh, Mr. Potato Head and Gumby. 🙂

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4. Love these CakeSpy prints: “ABCs of Sweetness” and “Pop Tarts That Should Exist.” She always comes up with the coolest ideas! Click on each image to purchase at Etsy (zoom in to see the fine details). You may remember that we previously featured both of Jessie Oleson Moore’s books, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life and The Secret Lives of Baked Goods (autographed copies available). My interview with Jessie is here.

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5. And now, the winner of our CHINESE FAIRY TALE FEASTS GIVEAWAY! 

Once again, we called upon the services of the dashing, erudite, elegantly mustachioed, ever-reliable Monsieur Random Integer Generator. When he heard the book featured Chinese food, he insisted on a big feast before picking a winner. To satisfy his enormous appetite, we ordered 105 pieces of his favorite dim sum, 34 bowls of rice porridge, 568 platters of stir-fried beef and baby bok choi, 43 pounds of shrimp fried rice, 69 gallons of egg drop soup, 5,478 pieces of crispy won ton, and 54 salted duck eggs.

Naturally the cozy but pedestrian Alphabet Soup kitchen didn’t seem like quite the right venue for such a feast, so we had the food delivered to the Great Wall at Badaling (Beijing Province) where he could enjoy his meal al fresco (now that’s what I call Chinese take-out!). 🙂


Fully sated, M. Generator was finally up to the difficult task of selecting just one winner from among a bevy of beauties and one always-hungry stud muffin. He cracked open 18 fortune cookies before one name called to him. It was:


Congratulations, Margie!!

Please send your snail mail addy to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com so we can send out your book pronto.

Thanks, everyone for entering. Maybe Margie will invite us all over for dinner when she makes some of the recipes from the book. 🙂

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6. Sigh. It is definitely not a cool thing that Season 5 of Downton Abbey is already over. Seems like it just started — why don’t they make more episodes per season? There’s a Christmas episode and then we’ll have to wait till January 2016 for Season 6 (an eternity). And Season 6 is supposedly the very last. Sigh.

So before full-blown DA withdrawal sets in, enjoy this cool little video featuring several of the cast members describing their characters in 5 words:

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Sigh. Have a nice week. Sigh.


Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

23 thoughts on “six cool things on a monday (including giveaway winner!)

  1. Only ONE more season of Downton Abbey? Why are these TV people so stingy? Julian Fellowes said in an interview he’d go on as long as people wanted the show! I’m mourning Boardwalk Empire, Justified (yes, my tastes are pretty gritty), and will be wearing black for *years* when Mad Men ends.


    1. Supposedly J Fellowes is going to begin working on a new series about the Gilded Age in NYC. He’d been approached to do it before, but said he couldn’t do two series at once.


  2. So much to chew on here, Jama, but I especially like your comment about Julian Fellowes. Now that’s something to look forward to!


  3. Thank you for these 5 cool and 1 not things on a cold Mass. morning. We were ecstatic yesterday when the temps hit the 30’s, but it’s back this morning to my dog backing out of the door, until he got annoyed enough at the squirrels on the bird feeder and felt he’d better show his face.

    Thanks for your excitement for LITTLE WOMEN IN BLUE! I just had a proposal to talk about May, her work, and her sense of place at the Alcott home in Concord accepted, and it is fun to start gathering images. And hoping to see MR. TURNER, a movie about one of her favorite artists, this week.


    1. We were happy here to see the 40’s — a real heat wave :). Got some good melting done.

      Exciting about your talk at Orchard House! I’m sure May will be there in spirit, cheering you on, so happy to get the attention. And I do love that cover image!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jeannine’s book looks like one to watch for, those are gorgeous pieces by Julie Patchkis, and yessity-yes about the pop tart flavors that ought to exist!


  5. Full of information, color, good things, and one sad piece of news–Downton Abbey. Did not know we had only one season left after this. I wondered how far all these wonderful characters could go. Thank you for the joy you spread, Jama.


    1. I’m still hoping that somehow Mr. Fellowes can be convinced to keep writing more scripts for DA beyond Season 6. Would love to continue to follow all the interesting characters he’s created.

      Thanks for stopping by to read today, Tam!


  6. What!? What!? What!? I’m the winner. Well that makes this bitter, bitter cold Monday warm up considerably. I would love to have you all for dinner! Thank you to Monsieur Random Integer Generator for swinging luck in my favor. You would think this is the Year of the Rabbit. ☺


    1. I was born in the Year of the Rabbit, were you? :). Maybe they made a mistake with this goat/sheep/ram thing . . .

      Congrats again, Margie! M. Generator sends his regards and hopes for an intimate Chinese dinner with you someday.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was indeed born in the year of the Rabbit Jama. Perhaps they did get the years scrambled up. Feeling very fortunate in so many ways. I certainly hope to share an intimate Chinese dinner with you someday also.


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